What a Link Farm is And Why You Should Never Use it.

Link farms used to be an extremely popular way to generate backlinks to rank sites high. But if you think they’ll still do that today, read this article (because it won’t).

Following up on an article I recently wrote on backlinking, and doing so in a good way, one response to that post was a comment on “link farming”, a topic which I had discovered that I had not written on, yet. Today I will. It is a subject that has not yet gone away and people still make the mistake of trying to utilize it.

I am going to explain exactly what it is and why it’s a horrible idea to try and use it…there’s also an evolution of this method that has been going on for a long time and I will explain how it’s changed, evolved, yet still inevitably leads to a horrible conclusion for ANYONE who tries it…

what is a link farm

If that metaphor didn’t get the point across, let me explain…

What exactly a link farm is:

Let me use a direct analogy to explain it:

Let’s take an actual farm. that grows food. The more food it grows, the more the person growing it eats and more they grow. 

Now when we substitute this analogy with the topic of this article, the links are the food and the site is the person.

The more links (redirects) you can make that point to the site, the more the site will be looked at as an authority website by Google and it will grow in rankings and traffic. 

In terms of how this is done, it’s actually quite easy, typically, when these things first came out, there was 1 popular way this was being used:

The person made a bunch of websites/pages/blog posts and just pointed them all back to a single website he/she wanted to grow. When Google visited all those sites the person made and saw that they were all pointing to the one big site, they considered that page to be of high value and thus gave it a higher ranking.

These are also called content farms.

This method was a cheap and “sleazy” way of getting higher rankings.

The incentive for many people who discovered this method wasn’t then to create a high quality website, but to make a cheap sales page, point a bunch of other sites to that sales page and enjoy fast, high rankings, which resulted in mass traffic.

Much to the surprise of…no one…this method quickly became abusive and overused by just about anyone who discovered it (article directories did this).

Naturally overtime, because creating quality content became overshadowed by getting, cheap, high rankings via this method, Google made an update and shut this option down, by basically devaluing the power of those redirects. 

In other words, empty sites which do nothing by point to another no longer carried value and very quickly this method died.

But it then evolved. Enter content farms:

One thing you can count on from people seeking easy rankings is that they will not quit looking for ways to exploit Google’s ranking system. If one method fails, they will look for another and after the first method was slapped down, they found another…

This method was a bit more advanced, but still held true to the traditional “link farming” strategy. While in the original method, the main idea was to create empty pages with nothing but redirects to another, once that method was devalued, the next discovery made was if you took those pages that had nothing but redirects, added content to them, and THEN redirected them to a single page, then there would be value to that redirect and the page it was pointing to.

One such arena in which this method of SEO was utilized to it’s fullest and most abusive was article directories.

Places like Ezinearticles.com, Streetarticles.com, Articlebase.com, Squidoo, Hubpages, ect… were all headquarters for people to go to, write masses of articles and just redirect them all back to a single page. 

Article directories like the ones I just listed carried a great deal of value in Google’s eyes, because they produced MASSIVE amounts of content from random people all over the world. And one thing to note about Google and SEO is that any page that produces massive content like they did, gets favorable nods from Google. 

But anyway, when it’s easy to get rankings, you can bet there’s going to be abuse. So besides writing short, cheap quality articles on those directories, black hat people also used content spinners and created even cheaper, stolen content from others, submitted them to these directories and then just pointed them all back, in masses, to their main site. 

Like I said before, this was STILL a form of link farming, but with an add layer of content over it. And wouldn’t you know it, Google stepped in again when this method was abused and shut down the privilege those article directories had. 

Once again, the black hat people were forced back into figuring out how else they could get away with cheap, ranking tactics…

Content farms then evolved into private blog networks (PBNs). 

As of right now, private blog networks (PBNs) are the most “evolved” form of this whole, sleazy ranking strategy we’re talking about.

What these things (PBNs) do is basically what article directories did, but what happens here is that the person seeking to exploit this strategy has a number of websites and they all carry content on them and also redirect to the page they want to rank higher, but the form in which they do it is carefully coded and blocked in a way that Google will not assume this is a cheap tactic and will still give it good rankings.

There’s entire companies out there which have their own PBNs and actually sell services in which someone who makes a website pays these companies and they’ll just provide redirects from their PBN’s to the client’s site to boost it.

Such a tactic has worked for a number of years, BUT be warned, Google hasn’t exactly been sitting around and not noticing this. They have and in recent years, despite the hidden tactics of PBN’s, many of them HAVE been shut down and devalued. There’s not that many people who still get away with this stuff, but those who do, are basically playing a game that they are soon going to lose.

My final thoughts: What to take from this whole topic.

If there is one main point I want to leave you with, it’s that this whole approach to sleazy “linking” strategies has in the long term had very negative consequences, every time and any future methods of this nature will only end up the same way.

The whole idea of redirecting between sites has lost it’s value because it’s been abused so much. Not to say it doesn’t work, but the key point isn’t how many times a site has other sites redirecting to it, the key point is how much content it has, how many shares it has, how many comments it has and things of the QUALITY sort. 

Redirects can easily be purchased, spammed, and in short, easily be created. When something is easy created, it often lacks quality and that is how Google looks at these things, which is why they devalued everything. It’s not like they directly “punished” the websites doing this stuff, they just took away the value of all that FAKE value they pretended to have.

traffic update pic


So to the people who complain about how hard it is to get rankings and end up engaging in these tactics, I will say 2 things:

1) I have no regards if you do this, you are going to only hurt your business.

2) Thank you. You will make it easy for Google to spot and destroy your rankings so real, actual high quality sites can replace you. 

3) I know how tempting it can be to use these tactics to get those fast rankings, but it’s going to be an endless hustle that will always end in Google punishing you. You need to embrace that SEO is not about these dirty methods anymore and is all about the opposite. See the recommendation I put above for an example.

20 thoughts on “What a Link Farm is And Why You Should Never Use it.”

  1. Now I understand! For years I have been trying to connect the dots with link farms, but I never really understood it. A friend of mine tried to get me to use one, but something told me no. He went ahead and “linked in”, and he dropped right off of google! Great article!


    • It’s an unfortunate thing Clay, but people, when they see the opportunity for easy rankings, they often don’t stop themselves from researching opposing viewpoints on the opportunity. And what’s worse, as was in your case, they try to get others to join them. You did the right thing.

  2. I have an analogy to offer. It’s in relation to the evolution of link farmers and Google, and how it’s similar to bird feeders and squirrels.

    Every year average people re-invent a new homemade bird feeder to keep squirrels away. And every year the squirrels figure out how to get to the bird food or just scare the birds away.

    This battle of wits has been going back and forth for years. Same as Link farmers, content farmers, and other PBN strategy exploiters that try to rig Google in their favor.

    • It’s a good analogy but I would add that despite them (black hat people) finding ways to keep playing the SEO game, it continually gets more and more difficult. They have to spend more time reinventing their strategies and I would bet if they put that time into building their business in a white hat way, they wouldn’t have to worry about any of this.

  3. Hi Vitaliy, I absolutely love your posts as I always learn something I didn’t know before about the online world, and you write in a way that is easy to understand.

    I guess like with everything in life there are always going to be people who want a free ride, and they will always find new strategies to try and beat the system, and link farming is one of them. 

    Luckily for us who are trying to make an honest living out there, they are being shut down. It always comes back to the same thing, creating quality, helpful content is going to bring you out on top in the long run.

    • Well said Stefanie and it’s a point that cannot be stressed enough. No matter how many times I preach about this, I will still get a number of people asking me about link farms and other “cheat” like methods to make money online. The only way those people learn is by failing unfortunately.

  4. I am pretty new to the affiliate market place and never even heard of this type of shortcut to rankings. I think anyone with integrity would rather build quality content and earn the reward of a following that respects the information provided! No short cuts for this guy! I get its a long process to build it, but for me that the best part! Thanks for the info…I know I am building it right!

    • You are Ray, but it’s not even a matter of integrity (although it plays a role), it’s just the fact that people who do this won’t succeed, the SEO game is set up to reward the content creators, not the ones who fake making it.

  5. I’m glad you cleared this up there was an article that was read about 20 minutes ago and it sounded just like you described. It promised a boost of traffic by entering the social media traffic exchange.

    Have you heard of it? If so is it safe to say that this is a farm? The author said it was a secured site and deals with other secured sites so it is a legit way to boost that traffic.

    Sounded good but there was a few questions that came across my mind. You seem to have answered them. Thank you for the read.


    • Well to be honest, there’s no enough information for me to conclude whether it’s a link farm or not. It sounds like you enter your URL on a private site where other people look at it and like it back. But even if this is the case, I’d say it’s not worth it.

  6. Black hat SEO strategies are definitely not worth it. Too many websites try to cheat the system and it only hurts them in the long run. It can be hard to improve your ranking, which is something I struggle with too, but as long as you play by the rules, it’ll pay off in the long run.

    • Correct and if you try to use those bad tactics, you’re just setting yourself up for a longer climb back up the ranking ladder.

  7. I recently joined a Facebook group about affiliate marketing and there was this one guy that sweared his linking method works and contributed to his success. Turns out, the method is the PBN you talked about here. While it looked tempting, I feel that such method of gaming the search engine is a bit risky.

    • Hi Isaac, there’s still a bunch of people who push PBN style SEO, but I don’t care how well it’s hidden or “advanced”, it is founded on principals that Google dislikes. And since Google is the SOLE decider of your site’s rank, why would anyone want to risk this? 

  8. Hi Vitaliy,

    Thanks for your article!

    Yesterday I just went through Matthew Woodward recent video series on how to get ranked on Google. Matthew is a highly successful online marketer and the course was also promoted by Dom Wells.

    Matthew was teaching his strategy on how to build private blog networks and said it’s the best way to achieve high Google rankings.

    However, I became a bit suspicious when he started talking about hiding footprints and staying under Google’s radar. Why does he need to hide? It sounds that he’s doing something “illegal”.

    In addition, building private blog networks takes lots of time and money. Why wouldn’t he just spend time same time on building his own site and a real online business? Building fake sites doesn’t provide any value for other people.

    I think I’ll stay away from his methods of building fake sites, fake comments and trying not to leave footprints. Doesn’t sound very honest.

    What do you think?

    • I think you have the right suspicions. If the strategy is so solid, then why go to such measures to conceal it from Google? Like you said in your analogy, it really doesn’t make sense, when on the opposite end, you have a proven strategy in building a site’s rankings through great content and that will never involve you having to hide anything from Google.

      Dom and I are actually friends and we do disagree in ways when it comes to PBNs and things like “good” backlinks and guest blogging, but I would have to talk to Dom personally to see his viewpoint of Mr.Woodward’s program and perhaps either he or I missed something.

      I know a couple of people who have been having some amazing success with PBNs, while the content of their website is honestly not that good, with articles having just about a few 100 words and targeting products and reviewing them, and I suspect it’s the PBNs that have boosted their sites to what they have today.

      Yet I can’t help but feel that this method is just too risky and something that may come apart with any new Google update, anyday. I remember being in Las Vegas in February of this year and sitting at a round table with other marketers who apply the same SEO methods I do (content production) and one of the people, who is an amazing local marketer (Jay) was reading a blog from Google’s webmaster site (it may have been another big time SEO page), but he was mentioning how people were seeing lower rankings that were using PBN type tactics and that the suspicion was that Google was more and more eyeing to close the gap and opportunities these sites were exploiting.

      I’ll take Google’s own words any day over ANY “master” SEO person.

  9. I had heard the term link farming before but never really understood it. You put it in simple terms and gave it to me straight, I like that. Do people who use those PBNs as ways to drive traffic to their own website get devalued? I’m guessing they do unless it is just too tricky to track back to the website who employed the company to drive the traffic that way. Very interesting ways people use to bring traffic and higher rankings in google.

    • PBN’s have evolved, but only in the realm of staying more and more hidden from Google, so to answer your question, IF Google spots that a site is using PBN’s, that MAY result in lower rankings, but it will typically happen if the site itself does not have enough content or value to provide people. In other words, the PBN leverage the site received is nullified if it is spotted and if what remains after that is a site that has a lot of good content, then it may retain rankings, but if not and that is usually the case, it’ll suffer tremendously with it’s rankings.

  10. I did not know of these tactics for getting ranked. There will always be people trying to cheat the system. I am a member of Wealthy Affiliate that you have a link to. It is great and they do teach you how to get good Google rankings the honest way. I would not have a good website without them. I love how they help you timely if you do run into problems.


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